Jesus, how I hate pitching. Personal branding. The manipulative practice of selling yourself. Absolute garbage.
I’m talking to you, middle-aged, fat, drunken idiot who verbally assaulted me last summer. Do you remember me, or were you too drunk? I was in a hotel lobby in my home town with some new acquaintances I had made at a local pub. You took offense at something which was not directed at you. I have no idea what it was. You were sitting alone, sipping your drink. Seeping in your mediocrity. None of the people I was with took offense. They enjoyed my company. But you. You took offense. You, middle-aged fucker, took upon you the burden of putting the young, ungrateful sons-of-bitches in their rightful, obedient place, bowing down to the altar of middle-aged mediocrity. I should have ignored you longer. I ignored you longer than any reasonable person would ignore your insults. I know it would have annoyed you even more if I gave you no attention at all. But at some point, your yelling and your insults became impossible to ignore. You confidently stated my age, which you got wrong by at least three years, and then you proceeded to tell me what an ungrateful, unintelligent bastard I was. How I should just shut up and listen to such an intelligent man in such an important, yet vaguely defined position at some company which had probably paid for food and accomodation so you could come into my fucking home town for a trade fair and tell me how I’m supposed to act, and further how dumb I am, how nobody likes me, and what a horrible person I am. A total stranger.
I asked you, “Do you want to discuss neuroscience?”
You exploded in rage. “You don’t ask a grown man what to discuss!”
You know why I asked you that? Because I knew you knew nothing about it, and I knew that I, the imbecile, knew a whole lot and could talk in circles around you. Because your instant drunken assessment of me as a social pariah with a double-digit IQ was wrong.
You are my totem. You, rude stranger, are my fucking totem. You represent all that I am not. The comfortable middle manager position in a moderately successful company, and I won’t ask permission to psychoanalyze you, as you did not ask permission to analyze me: let me guess, two grown kids, middle-aged wife who doesn’t satisfy you sexually, a house that looks exactly like the house next door, a house loan halfway to being downpaid, and a superiority complex manifesting from your complete lack of making any conceivable difference to the world, realizing that life is slipping between your fingers like sand. You are all that I will never be.
One of my old classmates is part of some sort of business talent program. He’s advertising it via facebook. A way for the brightest, most talented students to connect with the most attractive companies for job prospects. A podium to sell yourself, and be bought by an attractive company. All fine for an ambitious young man, of course. But my god, how they’re crawling over each other to be adaptable, to be initiative takers, to be the people who go beyond their comfort zone. They’re selling themselves as the perfect cogs in the corporate machine. They’re going to change the world with their enthusiasm and their guts and their will to lose again and again until they win. They have unlimited potential and unlimited resources to just keep going until they are the best at anything.
They are the future old men who in fits of drunken idiocy decide to verbally attack strangers because they need an outlet for their own mediocrity.
I’m trying to be a photographer, or a writer, or something. But to be that, I have to sell myself. I realized I only have one photographic series from the past five years, in addition to one I made last fall; that one, I think, is quite strong artistically, but it also paints me as a crazy person you probably wouldn’t want to hire. I have to sell myself. I have to read markets and find out how best to sell my unique competence, which for the most part lacks any kind of formal verification. It’s disgusting. It leads to disingenuous, manipulative bullshit. If you wanted to hire me, you’d google me, and find accounts of my drug addiction and my mania and my depressions. It’s out there. I can’t unpublish it. I could portray myself as a Survivor with a huge-ass S, but no. I am not. This is part of who I am.
I am not the infinitely adaptable, creative soul who always gives it his 100%. I am rarely at 100%. I’m often operating at 10% capacity. I’m often inoperative because some days I can’t even face the world. Everything takes on the air of menace. I walk down the winding stairs in the house my sister lives, with its creepy paintings with things sticking out of them, oddly, disoriented, out on the street, I see a shadow man in a window and stop: someone has pasted the silhoutte of a person all in black onto their third-floor bedroom. I walk out of a supermarket and pass a man dressed all in black, black coat with chains dangling from the back, wearing headphones and talking into some kind of walkie-talkie. What is this, have I been transported into an X-Files episode circa 1995? I walk on, see dark shadow people in an apartment building in the back lot near my house, they’re lighting up something–cigarettes? joints?–and nothing is visible excpet their shadowy silhouttes and the lit tips as they inhale and exhale. The world is a menacing place. I am tapering the anti-anxiety meds. I have the bag, and I have infinite incentive to eat them all. But I don’t.
I will never be that guy who is always 100%. I am not adaptable. I am not always creative. I am well-suited to work in teams–on the days when I am well-suited to work with people. On the other days, I might as well not exist. The world sucks, and any encounter with either scares or irritates me.
This is my anti-pitch. I can’t stand it. I can’t lie. I can’t present myself as something I am not. I could list my accomplishments, I could list my knowledge, I could list my continual series of abandoned educations. I could list my lost potential. I could be finishing a Master’s degree, yet I never got a Bachelor’s. Because I could not sustain that 100%, or even 50%.
Why does the world need a person like me? What do I “bring to the table,” how do I “elevate the business,” come up with “creative solutions,” how am I going to “change the world”? Why bother with me? Why don’t I just immolate all future job prospects?
Because fuck it. I’m not humble. I am as arrogant as the lot of them. I am even more arrogant, because I think I can see through all of them, the young “talents” who are going to “change the world”, the middle-aged middle manager types who think it is their place in life to correct the perceived wrongs of the immature, stupid, imbecilic youngsters you randomly meet when you invade their hometown to look at motherfucking boats for your mediocre company and drink too much on the company’s credit.
Fuck it. I’m not 100% even fifty percent of the time. I am often less than functional. I won’t play your games. But my one hundred percent is better than yours will ever be. Even if it shows up at unpredictable intervals, even if it’s only one-tenth of the time, my one hundred percent exceeds yours in every way. I’m more intelligent than you, more curious, I learn better, and my ideas are more original than yours. While you slave away at the modern disease of bettering oneself every day, the self-help industry’s mantra, little by little, I slave away at staying alive most days. But those days when I come to life, those weeks, those months, I fucking come to life in ways neither the young talents nor the stagnant, middle-aged bastards do.
Here’s my anti-pitch: most of the time I suck. Most of the time I’m unemployable. But every once in a while, I do things a thousand of your dependable talents and mediocre middle-aged middle managers never could. That’s it. Take it or leave it.
The world is such a vile, fake place. I will never fit into the asskisser’s society. Many days, I don’t fit into the world at all. But I’ve been operating outside your frame of reference for many years, and occasionally, I take that knowledge and actually do something with it. And that’s why you shouldn’t hire me, dirtbag. Thus ends my anti-pitch.